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Beloit College

Food Service Task Force

Aligning Food Service Programs at Beloit College with Student, Family, and Community Expectations

Food matters. In fact, there are few areas more important in the day-to-day lives and well-being of our students than their interaction with food; and there are few more substantive ways that the community comes together than over events featuring food. It is not surprising then that in the last decade college campuses across the United States have devoted increased resources and a great deal of creativity to the development of food service programs that, at their best, are far more closely aligned with their missions, including innovative ways to connect food service programs with learning and teaching.

As we consider opportunities for institutional change at Beloit College that hold the potential to  promote the mission and business of the college more effectively, food service seems like a particularly compelling area to consider. Not only will we be able to learn from other colleges who have made enormous improvements in the last decade, but the entire industry of college food service production has become significantly more responsive to individual institutional demand. The time is right to align a Beloit College food service program with student, family, and community expectations.

Towards this end, I have asked Dean of Students, Christina Klawitter, to chair a task force to engage the Beloit College community in addressing the following questions:

  1. In what ways can a food service program best promote the college’s mission and business?
  2. What creative programmatic opportunities that support the liberal arts in practice are possible?
  3. What budgetary principles should guide the funding of the college’s food service program?
  4. What facility issues need to be considered?
  5. What organizational structures are most likely to produce long-term results that will evolve towards ever closer alignment with changing student, parent, and community expectations?

Other members of the task force include Clara Baker'13, Jennifer Esperanza, Diana Gutierrez-Meza'13, Jody Nichols, Lynn Vollbrecht'06, Brian Vraney, and John Winklemann.

 

The Work of the Task Force

●      To prompt candid and creative conversations with and among members of the community as a means for developing responses to the key questions.

●      To seek input from other colleges who have reputations of providing particularly noteworthy and cost-effective food service programs.

●      To think expansively about food service from commons, to DK’s, to the slow food group, to Java joint, to C-Haus, to Greek houses, to catering, to new food carts, new employment opportunities for students, new learning and teaching opportunities, and beyond.

●      Engage in conversation and request formal proposals from food service providers (including our own) which help us evaluate how we can come closest to our aspirations.

●      To deliver a summary report to the President by February 1.

 

Some Parameters

●      Members of the task force are being chosen not as representatives of different constituencies, but as valued community members whose varied experiences with food service here or at other institutions, combined with their commitment to the college as a whole, and their highly respected judgment, makes their collective wisdom extremely valuable.

●      Budget considerations need to be an explicit part of the deliberations and wherever possible, recommendations about funding sources need to be clear.

●      We should expect to plan on a long run average size of the student body of 1225. Having said this, the number of students on campus in the fall semester has historically been significantly higher than the spring semester. From a food service standpoint, the peak-load number of students is at least as important as the average number of students in planning for facility needs. While we aspire to reduce the variance in enrollment, it is probably wise to plan on a student capacity of 1275 students.